In the book The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, I spoke at length about the surprising and little known agreement between Nazi Germany and the Zionist leadership in Israel during the 1930s, which helped save tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. However, if we examine Germany’s historic relationship with Zionism, we will discover an interesting fact: Germany has supported Zionism from its very beginning. Moreover, the more antisemitic it became, the more it supported Zionism.
Immediately following the emancipation of German Jewry in 1871, antisemitism began to grow in Germany. In 1879, Wilhelm Marr coined the term “antisemitism” in an essay titled “The Victory of Judaism over Germandom,” and Germany became increasingly troubled by the “Jewish question,” namely how to rid Germany of Jews. At around that time, following intensifying antisemitism in eastern and central Europe, Jews began to toy with the notion of returning to their ancient homeland and establishing a sovereign Jewish state in the historic land of Israel.
“The ulterior motive is always resentment against the Jews for not carrying out their vocation to be a virtuous nation that demonstrates the motto “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Although they cling to various contemporary pretexts, the hidden reason behind the hatred of these giant nations is always the anger at the Jews for not carrying out their duty.”
To the Germans, the idea of Jewish emigration from Germany to the land of Israel, which was then under Ottoman (Turkish) rule, sounded like a great solution to the Jewish question. In his visit to Palestine in 1898, German Emperor Wilhelm II met with Theodor Herzl and the two discussed the idea of Jewish emigration from Germany to the historic Israel. When the emperor next met with the Turkish Sultan, he mentioned the idea and tried to win the Sultan’s support. He did not succeed but remained favorable toward the idea of Zionism as the solution to the Jewish question.
In fact, imperial Germany was so supportive of Zionism that Herzl planned to host the first Zionist congress in Munich, Germany. It was the resistance of German Jewry to hosting it that prevented holding the congress in Munich, since they were afraid that Germans would view the congress as an act of disloyalty toward Germany. As a result, Herzl changed the location of the congress to Basel, Switzerland.
After World War I, antisemitism intensified in Germany. The NSDAP (Nazi Party) was established in Munich in 2019 and began to garner support for its anti-Jewish rhetoric. The Germans needed to blame someone for their defeat in World War I, and the Jews were perfect scapegoats.
However, with regard to Zionism, the Weimar Republic became increasingly supportive. Once Germany was accepted into the League of Nations in 1926, they also became bound to supporting the British Mandate in the land of Israel. Germany accepted this duty willingly and was very supportive of Britain’s promise through the Balfour Declaration to establish a national home for the Jews in the land of Israel. As a matter of fact, during the Weimar Republic, the only organization in Germany that opposed Zionism was the Central Verein, the principal Jewish organization in Germany.
When the Nazis came to power in January 1933, they initially went against all the Jews without exception. However, since they, too, wanted to solve the Jewish question, they quickly returned to the traditional policy of Germany since imperial times, to encourage emigration of Jews from Germany to Palestine.
There is a reason for the special, complicated, and prolonged relationship between Germany and Zionism. The Germans are a very developed nation. They produced some of the most illustrious scientists, musicians, authors, poets, and so forth. Germany is located in central Europe not only geographically; it is truly the center of Europe.
As is any developed nation, they are sensitive to the Jewish people, and more importantly, to the vocation of the Jewish people. As I just described, the only element in Germany that opposed Zionism was the Jews themselves. While Germany was actively supporting the return of the Jewish people to their historic land, to be what they must be—a model nation that implements its legacy of mutual responsibility and love of others—German Jewry resented the idea and wanted to stay in Germany, complacent and smug. Because the Germans subconsciously felt that the Jews should be together in the land of Israel, they opposed the assimilationist tendencies in German Jewry and hated Jews who promoted it, which was in fact the majority of the Jews in Germany.
Germany is not the only developed nation that turned violently antisemitic. Historically, it is the most developed nations that inflict the most painful blows on the Jews. In antiquity, it was the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans, all great empires and very developed nations at the time when they went against the Jews. In the Middle Ages, it was England in the 13th century, and Spain in the 15th century. In modern times, it was Germany in the 20th century.
The ulterior motive is always resentment against the Jews for not carrying out their vocation to be a virtuous nation that demonstrates the motto “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Although they cling to various contemporary pretexts, the hidden reason behind the hatred of these giant nations is always the anger at the Jews for not carrying out their duty.
Today, the same process is happening in America. The United States is like the new Europe. It is the most developed country, its founders came from Europe and brought European culture, faith, and values with them, and the same process that has always happened in great nations is happening there, too.
Therefore, now that America has reached the level of development when antisemitism begins to grow, it is only going to go one way. The more the American people develop, the more antisemitic they will become. Jews should learn the lesson from history and leave there while they can. If Jews do not want to carry out their role, they must leave the US, since Jew-hatred will only intensify and become more violent there. It is an irreversible process, and the sooner the Jews realize this and leave, the better it will be for them.
[Attribution: Medal issued by Goebbels’s newspaper Der Angriff commemorating head of SD Jewish Affairs Office Leopold von Mildenstein’s six-month visit to Palestine. Photos: Courtesy of Kedem Auction House]